July/August 2012
Association News

Is ISA relevant?

By Robert E. Lindeman

As ISA President, it has been my privilege to attend many ISA events. I have been to section meetings, district leadership conferences, division symposia, leadership training sessions, district and department board meetings and teleconferences, task force meetings, and ISA headquarters visits. I have received and participated in email discussions and social media conversations. Needless to say, I am impressed by the dedication and professionalism of the Society.

ISA members offer great ideas, innovative approaches, and a genuine commitment to make ISA the technical society of today. A common topic of discussion at ISA events relates to the value of being an ISA member. Perhaps the best summary statement capturing this topic is the question "Is ISA relevant?"

On the surface, the answer is obvious: of course ISA is relevant! But digging deeper, maybe we as a society have not clearly communicated to members and potential members how important ISA is to our success as automation professionals.

At a recent district leadership conference we discussed this topic. A suggestion was made to ask ISA members to share personal experiences where their membership and involvement in ISA has had a positive impact on their careers and on their companies. I will bet, with a little thought, all of us could come up with great examples.

I will share a story from my own experience with you. I have participated in many of ISA's International Instrumentation Symposia (IIS) over the years and have brought back significant technical information that benefitted my career and industry. I work in wind tunnel testing, where we need to make multiple pressure measurements on models in a very small space. The models need automatic calibration and hands-off operation. Conventional methods are costly and inefficient. These problems were brought to light in several IIS symposia, where users and suppliers came together. The end result was the development of a new technology meeting the needs of the community. The improvement in data quality and reduced cost of operation has been well-documented and has revolutionized wind tunnel testing.

ISA develops standards, certifies industry professionals, provides education and training, publishes books and technical articles, and hosts conferences and exhibitions for automation professionals. The Society is the trusted source for all things automation, and we are advancing the automation profession worldwide and encouraging the development of the next generation of automation professionals through our support of:

  • For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST®)
  • Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)
  • Scholarship opportunities
  • Student activities

We are breaking new ground in industrial security, wireless, and public policy, and expanding our reach beyond our historical boundaries into building automation, manufacturing, and teaming with education institutions to provide an automation curriculum. I would say the Society is busy making an abundance of contributions to the profession. Add in the intangibles of networking opportunities, friendships made over the years, and the opportunity to build leadership skills and grow as a person-the question of ISA's relevancy is rhetorical.

Let's get the word out about ISA's positive impact on your career and company. One way is the use of social media. I challenge each ISA member to submit his or her personal story to ISA's Community Manager, Juliann Grant. This is your opportunity to share your story and communicate with the ISA Interchange (http://automation.isa.org/) audience about your experience with ISA. Also, look to these ways to become more active in the Society:

  • Participate in your local section activities
  • Volunteer to mentor students
  • Write a technical paper or a book
  • Put your expertise to work as a committee or board member

Invite your contacts and colleagues to join ISA! Let's put the relevancy question to rest.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robert E. Lindeman, CAP, PMP is the 2012 ISA President.